Although you might think Indian food is fattening and reserved only for special occasions, there are plenty of Indian foods that are delicious and healthy. The Indian food you eat at most restaurants is usually loaded with tons of fat and refined carbs, giving it a bad rep. Traditional Indian cuisine is actually very low in fat, incorporates lots of fruits and vegetables, and is perfect for a vegetarian lifestyle. Learning a few authentic recipes is all it takes to make this spicy and delectable cuisine a staple in your diet. Check out these seven fantastic Indian foods that are delicious and healthy.
1. Chickpeas and Other Legumes
Chickpeas are one of the many Indian foods that are delicious and healthy. Because Indian cuisine doesn’t always use a ton of meat, chickpeas, kidney beans, black eyed peas, and other legumes serve as a great source of protein. Indian food literally has dozens of different curries and dishes that all use beans as a base. From simple soups in North India to hot and spicy curries in the South, you’ll see plenty of beans and legumes in this type of cuisine.
Looking for a calcium rich source of probiotics? Yogurt could be exactly what you need! Because many dishes in Indian cuisine are super spicy, often dairy products like yogurt are used to alleviate some of the heat and make the dishes more palatable. Growing up, I would often mix yogurt into very spicy curries as a way to cool them down a little bit and make them tastier. From a health standpoint, yogurt is fantastic for the digestive tract, alleviating digestive problems and building immunity. Add yogurt to any Indian cuisine for a protein-rich and healthy side.
In American cuisine, you might think Cauliflower is a pretty bland vegetable that’s just boiled or steamed and served plain as a side. But in Indian cuisine, cauliflower often takes center stage! Many curries and dishes use cauliflower in place of chicken, offering a robust flavor and texture that’s full of fiber and will keep you satiated until your next meal. One of my favorite curries uses loads of cauliflower, potatoes, and green peas. It’s a crowd-pleasing dish everyone loves and one of the best dishes to eat if you want to give cauliflower a try.
Speaking of curry, did you know that curry doesn’t just taste good, but is also good for you? Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, garlic, and chili powder are all really high in antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation in the body. There’s a reason Indians who eat this traditional cuisine have such high life expectancy rates—the secret is curry. Curry is fantastic for your health, boosting immunity and even preventing diabetes. Not to mention it tastes great!
Okra seems to be a long-lost vegetable in American cuisine. Usually it’s deep fried and breaded, which completely zaps any nutrition from this awesome vegetable. On the other hand, Indian cuisine uses okra in a variety of dishes, letting the vegetable braise for an extended period of time to truly release its nutrients. If you’re looking for a new and innovative way to up your intake of veggies and get more greens in your diet, okra is a great start. Its nutty texture and unique flavor is the perfect change of pace if you want something other than spinach or kale.
6. Coconut Milk
Coconut is all the rage these days in the food and nutrition world, and for good reason! Although it’s rich in saturated fat, this healthy fat actually boosts metabolism, helping you lose weight and stay in shape. In traditional south Indian cuisine, Thai cuisine and ingredients are often a big influence. As a result, coconut milk is often used in many curries and desserts. Its rich and sweet flavor makes it a great addition in a ton of Indian dishes. So don’t be afraid to try making a coconut curry for dinner one night!
7. Bulgur Wheat
Although you might think basmati rice is a staple in Indian cuisine, don’t forget about other starches like bulgur wheat. Often creamed with milk or yogurt, it’s a very traditional breakfast in Indian cuisine. Full of fiber and essential B Vitamins, bulgur wheat is a rich and fulfilling take on oatmeal and other hot cereals that taste great. Try switching up your normal breakfast routine for this wholesome grain for a satisfying and yummy meal.
Indian cuisine is one of the healthiest cuisines you could possibly eat. From the leafy greens and healthy legumes to the healthy fats and whole grains, this diet is fraught with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a ton of other nutrients. What are some of your favorite Indian foods?